CHICAGO (July 13, 2010)—GS1, the industry-wide initiative to label and track products by U.P.C. barcode, is a reality.
“It’s not a question of when or if, it’s happening now,” said Dan Wilkinson [[title]], at the close of the joint IFDA/IFMA Sales and Marketing Conference in Chicago.
The 60 founding members of the GS1 launch group—which includes manufacturers, distributors and operators—have begun gathering the necessary information on products, marking the products with barcodes and tracking those products through the supply chain. Founding members include Yum Brands, Ben E. Keith Foods, Hormel, Kraft and other big players.
“I would have to say I’m amazed at the progress we have made in less than a year,” said Mike Roach, president of Ben E. Keith. “It really has been because of the industry and the willingness of the industry to work together.”
“The fact that all three parts of the industry are cooperating is very unique,” added Tom Sampson, president of Kraft Foodservice, North America. “Our world changed in ’08, and we’re all looking for better ways to do business.”
GS1 is the name of the non-profit behind U.P.C. standards worldwide, but it is also shorthand for the industry initiative. Once fully in place, foodservice products will be marked with the recognizable barcodes, allowing everyone along the supply chain to quickly access all sort of information, including a products nutritional data. It will also streamline traceability. Administrative time will be saved, information can be passed to customers faster and it will lay the foundation for a more efficient food safety and tracking system.
The effort is voluntary, and the goal is to have 75 percent of foodservice purchases made under GS1 by 2015.
One audience member summed up the benefits of GS1 like this: “How many times do your reps get asked, ‘Show me all your gluten-free products,’ ‘Show me all your vegan products,’ ‘Your low sodium products.’ All of these answers will immediately be available on their laptop.”